Lynda Morales delivered the punishing blows down the stretch to tow RC Cola-Air Force to a heart-stopping 25-20, 17-25, 20-25, 25-21, 15-13 victory over Meralco in the 2015 Philippine Superliga Grand Prix women’s volleyball tournament at The Arena in San Juan.
An active member of the Puerto Rican national team, Morales was good as advertised as she came up with a glowing performance in the deciding set to lead the Raiders to a rousing debut in this prestigious inter-club tournament presented by Asics and backed by Milo with Mikasa, Senoh and Mueller as technical partners.
Morales tallied 19 kills and seven blocks to finish with 26 points while American Sara McClinton delivered 20 markers for RC Cola-Air Force, which is making a grand return after a deep championship run in the previous Grand Prix.
But more than anything else, it was Morales who provided the spunk for the Raiders in the fourth and fifth sets where they mounted a fiery rally that left the young Power Spikers struggling for form.
“We had an opening-game jitters and we lost our receives in the second and third sets,” said RC Cola-Air Force coach Rhovyl Verayo. “But fortunately, we managed to pull it through. Lynda was phenomenal. But we needed to receive in order to maximize her strength.”
With Morales taking the lead, the Raiders hounded and pounded Meralco in the fourth set to forge a deciding set, much to the delight of a huge weekday crowd that trooped to the venue to witness topnotch volleyball players in action.
It was an all-Morales show from there as she scored three straight points to put RC Cola-Air Force ahead, 8-6. Local spiker Maika Ortiz converted on a running kill while McClinton scored on the defensive end to give Raiders a five-point edge.
Still, it wasn’t safe.
Meralco, behind the heroics of Cha Cruz, Kim Fajardo and import Liis Kullerkann, stormed back and managed to tie the count at 13. But Morales scored on a quick hit from the middle while Cruz suffered an attack error to seal the victory for RC Cola-Air Force.
“It may not be the most impressive performance, but at least we still managed to win,” said Verayo who capitalized on the absence of injured Meralco import Christina Alessi. “We still have a lot to improve on. Hopefully, we can pull off an easier victory next time.”
Kullerkann punched 15 kills for a total of 18 points while Mika Reyes nailed 15 markers for Meralco, which has yet to win in three starts.